18 March 2008

ODC Public Domain Dedication and Licence

One of the themes of this blog is how the ideas behind open source are seeping into many other domains. One of the latest is that of databases. The question of how you make a database open is prickly, not least because in Europe there is a stupid law that grants a “sui generis” database right, whatever that means. This was intended to stimulate investment in databases; but guess what? It has done precisely the opposite, and actually led to *less* investment relative to the US, where there is no such right. The withering power of intellectual monopolies strikes again.

Anyway, in order to deal with databases, a new kind of licence is required that takes into account these kind of problems, and the Open Data Commons has put one together that has just been released as version 1.0:

The Open Data Commons – Public Domain Dedication & Licence is a document intended to allow you to freely share, modify, and use this work for any purpose and without any restrictions. This licence is intended for use on databases or their contents (”data”), either together or individually.

Many databases are covered by copyright. Some jurisdictions, mainly in Europe, have specific special rights that cover databases called the “sui generis” database right. Both of these sets of rights, as well as other legal rights used to protect databases and data, can create uncertainty or practical difficulty for those wishing to share databases and their underlying data but retain a limited amount of rights under a “some rights reserved” approach to licensing as outlined in the Science Commons Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data. As a result, this waiver and licence tries to the fullest extent possible to eliminate or fully license any rights that cover this database and data. Any Community Norms or similar statements of use of the database or data do not form a part of this document, and do not act as a contract for access or other terms of use for the database or data.

Good stuff. (Via Andrew Katz.)

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